Unlocking the gates

Grant Hayter-Menzies

in The Empress and Mrs. Conger

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9789888083008
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207554 | DOI:
Unlocking the gates

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This chapter describes Sarah Conger's fascination with the Imperial Observatory. The Imperial Observatory was built on the southeast corner of the old city wall in 1296 during the reign of Khublai Khan. Under the Mongols, the observatory (largely the work of Muslim astronomers) had consisted of a tower with a quadrant for determining the altitude of celestial bodies. A century and a quarter later, the city walls were pulled down and re-erected further south and east, leaving the observatory on its remaining corner of city wall. Sarah was enthralled by two things: the antiquity of the spot, and the fact that most of the extant instruments on the platform were not Chinese at all.

Keywords: Sarah Conger; Imperial Observatory; Khublai Khan; Mongols; Muslim astronomers

Chapter.  6232 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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